I get asked all the time what the ideal length for podcast episodes are. The truth is, it really depends on your format, genre and publishing schedule. But, let’s try and keep it relatively short, ok? We don’t need another 2-hour Joe Rogan copycat. As a host, how long of a podcast do you want to create? Likewise, put yourself in listener’s shoes. As a listener, how long of a podcast can you tolerate? It’s important to ask yourself these questions. Creating a longer show takes more work as a host and risks your listeners dropping off from the episode before it’s finished.
My rule of thumb: Your episode length should be directly related to the amount of good content you have in a particular episode, while also keeping some form of consistent length across all your episodes. You don’t want to release an episode that has a really compelling 20-minute interview and then has 25 minutes of rambling because you told yourself you MUST have a 45-minute show. Keep your episode length relative to the amount of good material you have in the show. Get in your audio editing program and do a little snip snip, to make sure you’re only releasing your best podcast content.
Podcast Episodes & Topics Require Different Amounts of Attention
The different topics of episodes or podcasts as a whole can and will affect the length of your episodes. Some topics require more time to get into and explore. If there’s a lot of information to communicate, naturally you’re going to take more time. Additionally, the audiences of some topics will be willing to listen much longer than others. In my experience, the Science/ Tech shows I listen to, typically have more in depth information to convey.
I’m usually more willing to listen to the longer shows (60min +) in this genre, because the information is so deep, the language takes time to digest and the concepts can literally be mind blowing. The same goes for True Crime podcasts. The stories are rich and compelling and that an hour can easy fly by and I’m still engaged. On the other hand, if I’m listening to a comedy episode or talk show, I find that short and sweet feels right to me.
Frequency of Publishing & Length
The frequency of your podcast publishing schedule can have an effect on the length of your episodes too. If you’re only doing one show a month, it’s only natural that your podcast would be longer. If you’re currently releasing one show a week, you could plan on keeping the episodes a little shorter because you know you’ll be back in the listeners ears the following week. If you’re realizing you have a lot of information to communicate and your episodes are getting long, you could try breaking up your show and releasing twice a week.
This will keep episodes shorter, keep your audience teased and wanting more, and will allow you to get your message across without the listeners having to sitting through an hour and a ½ show in one go. Remember though, just because you have a big message, doesn’t mean your show needs to go on for hours. Another good questions to ask yourself is: How long are other podcasts in my genre? You may find an opportunity exists to position your podcast as the shorter or longer form show, on it’s subject matter.
As you can see, podcast episode lengths are subject to many different factors. With that being said, in the beginning when you are building an audience, you should keep your show on the shorter side. I’m not sure what that looks like for YOU, but I think 35 minutes is a good sweet spot for newbies. This is a good length for commuters and exercise routines. Start there, or where you feel comfortable. Then you can start tweaking the show to fit your audience needs and fit the free time you have available to produce the episodes.